NPower Launches Tech Careers for Underserved Communities and Military Veterans with Microsoft Certified Fundamentals

NPower is a non-profit organization based in the United States, dedicated to creating pathways for military veterans and young adults from underserved communities who wish to pursue careers in technology. Operating in nine states, NPower offers comprehensive technology skills training, facilitates quality job placement, and provides educational resources aimed at transforming lives and bolstering communities on a global scale.

NPower’s Los Angeles, California facility is one of many locations offering tuition-free technology training and certifications. Notably, this location houses the Information Technology Support Services (ITSS) program, enrolling 150 candidates annually. This program equips trainees with resources for IT roles, fostering essential skills in key areas such as machine learning and cloud computing. In support of this program, NPower currently offers four certifications, including two of the Microsoft Certified Fundamental certification exams.

Why Microsoft Certified Fundamentals certification?

NPower implemented the Microsoft Certified Fundamental certification in response to the growing demand in the workforce for skills in artificial intelligence, machine learning, and cloud computing.

Aligned with their primary mission of creating pathways to economic prosperity through the launch of technology careers, they introduced industry-recognized certifications to empower their trainees to secure entry-level jobs.

"Industry-recognized certifications are crucial. They establish a sense of credibility," highlighted Punita Patel, NPower Placement Manager. "Microsoft Certified Fundamentals is affiliated with products and services applicable across various industries. This not only enhances our trainees’ marketability but also significantly contributes to their ability to secure roles in the IT industry."

Through extensive research, NPower identified the Microsoft Azure Fundamentals (AZ-900) and Microsoft 365 Fundamentals (MS-900) exams as ideal certifications that align with their introductory ITSS level course. The Microsoft Azure Fundamentals (AZ-900) provides candidates with the opportunity to explore cloud computing. In addition to imparting comprehensive knowledge of cloud capabilities and usage, it adeptly contextualizes these concepts for Azure products and services. While the Microsoft 365 Fundamentals (MS-900) certification exam aids candidates in becoming acquainted with the full spectrum of products within the Microsoft suite.

How was Microsoft Certified Fundamentals implemented?

The ITSS program spans 18 weeks, with two weeks specifically dedicated to teaching and learning the content covered in the Microsoft Azure Fundamentals (AZ-900) and Microsoft 365 Fundamentals (MS-900) certification exams. This intensive two-week segment acts as a pathway, guiding participants from introductory cloud computing to the development of more advanced skills in subsequent courses.

NPower created curriculum materials and self-built labs mapped to the learning objectives of the certification exams. The learning process is divided into two parts: in-classroom learning (online lectures and instructor-guided labs) and self-learning (CertPREP Practice Tests, powered by GMetrix, and training videos). One of the largest challenges faced was implementing materials that adequately prepared their trainees for the certification exam within the allotted timeline.

“NPower as an organization has traditionally focused on CompTIA certification. Therefore, the greatest challenge was finding a baseline from which to build our curriculum. As of the most recent class, we have decided to incorporate 好色TV’s CertPREP Practice Tests as an additional self-guided tool to complement class lectures along with video learning,” explained Jordan Jenkins, Technical Instructor of the ITSS program.

What was the impact of Microsoft Certified Fundamentals?

Since implementing the Microsoft Certified Fundamentals certifications into NPower’s ITSS program, it has had a significant impact on their trainees and the ITSS program. It has:

  • Increased certification achievement: 85% of their graduating trainees have received at least one certification from their offerings.
  • Validated in-demand job skills: These certifications provide a unique skill set that aligns with industry demands, empowering trainees to excel in diverse roles within the technology landscape.
  • Instilled confidence: The combination of the industry-recognized certifications and the support of the NPower team has increased their candidates’ confidence in pursuing job roles.
  • Created a pathway for continued learning: Many individuals continue their learning in cloud computing and related concepts through more advanced courses offered at NPower and beyond.

“The biggest reward in implementing Microsoft Certified Fundamentals certifications into our program is to watch our trainees progress along their learning journey,” said Heather Haag, Placement Director for NPower. “Our trainees often come from underserved communities with little technical experience before enrolling in our program. Measuring their progress is uplifting, and to see them realize that they can learn a new skill is highly rewarding.”

In addition to these certifications, NPower’s hands-on learning and supportive staff have impacted each of their trainees’ lives and transformed their exploration of their career paths.

  • Thomas Groff, a Marine Corps veteran with over 10 years of experience in the copier business, expressed his gratitude: "NPower has been incredibly supportive. From the beginning, they walked alongside me. Their Professional Development team consistently collaborates with us to develop resumes and acquire skills necessary for success. Listing relevant industry certifications on my resume quickly showcases to prospective employers that I can effectively utilize the tools provided to perform job duties."
  • Sung Min Lee, a member of the Army National Guard, reflected on the impact of certifications: "The certifications significantly expanded my knowledge and skills, enabling me to explore a broader range of possibilities in leveraging technology. For example, I am studying additional programming languages. The acquired knowledge and skills not only influence my learning process but also empower me to envision diverse projects and their potential outcomes."
  • Xenia Santana, a mother of three and a military spouse facing deployment, shared her experience: "By completing the Microsoft Azure Fundamentals, I determined my career field in technology—cloud computing. I now understand how cloud computing works, cloud service types, and data storage, and I’m excited to continue learning and become an expert in this field. I look forward to enrolling in NPower’s Spring class for cloud computing to further enhance my knowledge."

With a commitment to excellence, NPower's ITSS program, enriched by the Microsoft Certified Fundamentals certifications, has been instrumental in shaping futures, creating a ripple effect of success. NPower has not just opened doors; it has unlocked a world of possibilities for individuals to learn and thrive in the ever-evolving technology industry.

For more information on Microsoft Certified Fundamentals, visit: .

About NPower: NPower creates pathways to economic prosperity by launching digital careers for military veterans and young adults from underserved communities. They currently operate in New York, Texas, California, Maryland, New Jersey, Missouri, North Carolina, Ohio, and Michigan. To learn more, visit: .